Mentor Profile

Frank Cuta

My name is Frank Cuta. I am a blind research engineer and a mentor in the DO-IT program. I have worked for Battelle Labs in Eastern Washington for the past 21 years. My principle strength is my knowledge of sensors and transducers and how to integrate them with computers. My outside interests include the Washington Council of the Blind, the Radio Reading Service, folk music, sound recording, literature, philosophy, science fiction, sword collecting and poetry. But let's get away from the lists. Let me tell you a story that does a better job of covering the topic of Frank Cuta.

Several years ago (in the dark ages) when blind persons were kept in closets, I applied to attend space camp in Huntsville. This is the ultimate experience for anyone between 8 and 80 who wants to go into space but doesn't have a prayer of ever getting on the shuttle. Of course I was denied admission even though I attached a letter explaining that I was very independent and would need no accommodations other than the simple aids that I would bring with me. Through the efforts of Brock Adams (a senator that you may not remember), his counterpart in Alabama and the Alabama White Cane Law, I became the first blind person to break into this coveted playground of the space crazy. The days at space camp are filled with technical lectures, movies, tours and space rides. However, my unforgettable experiences have to include the hours that I got to spend on the actual simulators that were developed and used by the mercury and Apollo astronauts and my shuttle mission simulation. This mission is acted out second by second with all of the sound, vibrations, video and actions necessary to get you and your crew members into orbit and complete experiments in space.

I never did meet the administrators that tried to keep me out of the program. The instructors and other members of my team accepted me completely and I had a totally positive experience. At the end they gave me some kind of award they reserve for the top participant in each class. I think they were moved to select me not because of what I gave the program, but what I got out of it. No one even came close to yelling and whooping as much or as loud as I did. Yes, and I think I did a little jumping up and down too! Funny how you get carried away when you're having fun.